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Pia Fries

Ohriss, 2004
oil and silkscreen on wood, diptych
80.0 x 65.0 cm; 80.0 x 100.0 cm
Two smooth white wood panels serve as a neutral scene on which oil painting, ebullient and unrestrained, plays out. In Pia Fries’s work, the paint is converted into the main protagonist of her pieces. Often applied directly to the support without a brush, straight from the tube, the paint proliferates, spreads, coagulates and takes on relief until it becomes sculptural in drying. Fries uses various tools to impart projections and ridges as well as hollows and transparent areas to the colourful paste.

The traces of these gestures are scored in the colour like so many tokens of a physical encounter between the artist and the substance. The composition arises from a mix of conscious, deliberate decisions and various series of accidents and unpremeditated operations. Thus, a more spontaneous painting is laid over motifs that have been silkscreened on the wood support. Because of this simultaneous presence of two techniques, the work wavers between a two-dimensional depiction and a concrete reality. That juxtaposition enables the artist to attain new visual effects and play with the different thicknesses of her paint. And the paint that emerges seems to twist in on itself and coil into infinite movements of decomposition and recomposition. The dynamic quality of these scrolls and contortions is further reinforced by the slight imbalance of the two panels, which are of unequal size.

The abstract forms that suddenly loom up and intermingle in this multicoloured jumble evoke the image of a nature in perpetual change. The colours, bright, warm and earthy at one and the same time, suggest the idea of vegetation, of fossilised rock. Midway between painting and bas-relief, the Ohriss diptych describes both the wrinkles of a piece of cloth and geological sedimentation. As with all of Fries’s paintings, Ohriss exudes an impression of novelty and freshness, as if it had been completed just now. Freed from constraints and conventions, Fries spotlights the elementary force of painting.
Pia Fries, Ohriss, 2004